Author's Note: I'm sure you saw it coming. Yes, another angstbunny collab with Crystal Renee. I said I wouldn't write angst for a long time, but this author often tends to break her word.
When I first read the synopsis of what Renee wanted me to write, I was all, "Eh? I'm going to write a medical drama?" I have to admit, I've never written or even envisioned anything of the sort, so it really presented a challenge. Add to the fact that I was preparing to go to college when she sent this, plus the utter lack of time to write and PCs to write in (when you have a sister who manages to beat you to the PC every time to write her own fic, it can get ugly)… well, let's just say this was a long time coming.
My Happily Ever After
By: Yummei-sama no Hayashi
Plot by: Crystal Renee
Disclaimer: I'm too lazy to make a witty disclaimer.
"You're going to have to tell him sometime," Tsunade said curtly, her lips pursed as she surveyed Sakura's weak form on the sterile white sheets of the hospital bed. "Or he's going to find out about it from someone else, eventually."
"I can't," Sakura murmured weakly, looking as tired and worn as she felt. "I can't do it – not to Sasuke-kun."
"I can't leave you like this either, Sakura," Tsunade said with a sigh. Her hazel eyes rested on the swell on Sakura's stomach, the cause of the current situation. "Why can't you listen to me when your own health is concerned?"
Sakura laughed ironically. "Shishou, you and I both know that I got my stubbornness from you."
Tsunade didn't smile. "This is no joke, Sakura. Two lives are in great danger."
"But one of the two can be saved," Sakura threw back. "And it'll be the one that Sasuke-kun…" Her eyes were sad for a flicker of a second. "It'll be the one that he holds more… dear."
The blonde Hokage looked angry and frustrated. "This is wrong," she muttered, running her hand through her hair. "I don't know who to be furious with – Sasuke or you."
"Look, Tsunade-shishou," Sakura began, "I've already thought about it many times over. I've had months to do that." She touched her swollen abdomen gently. "I'll wait till the little one's old enough to be able to survive surgery, give birth to it, and not tell Sasuke-kun what I've been... experiencing… these past few months."
"Have you not been listening to me, Sakura?" Tsunade asked angrily. "If you wait any longer, yes, the baby will live, but you'll die. The child's disease is taking is taking its toll on you more than on the child itself, but both of you will die anyway. The longer it stays in your womb, the worse your chances are of surviving."
"But if I give birth to it now, it won't be able to sustain itself," Sakura argued, trying to put some force in her voice. "I can't let the baby die without giving it the chance of surgery. I would rather die than have it die in my place."
"Sasuke wouldn't want you to die," Tsunade retorted. "Have you even thought of that?"
"He wants the baby more," Sakura said softly, her eyes growing distant. "I can't…" she paused, sighing heavily. "I can't take away the happiness he's finally having knowing he has a child on the way."
Tsunade stared at Sakura sadly. "You don't know how it would make people feel if you died, now do you?" The Godaime's hazel orbs were a mix of anger and sadness. "What do you think Naruto would feel? What do you think I would feel? You don't understand how hard this is for everyone who loves you!"
Sakura propped herself up with her elbows, her eyes portraying the same mix of emotions. "You don't understand how it is to be a mother and wife, either!" Sakura shot back, her tears finally falling. "That's because you've never been either one!"
Tsunade opened her mouth, taken aback. Sakura realized what she had just said, regret filling her chest. "Oh, shishou, I… I'm sorry. I didn't mean to… say such a horrible thing."
Her teacher shook her head. "I'm sorry too, Sakura. I'm sorry that you've had to live this sort of life, even if you did marry the man you love." She smiled weakly. "I foresaw that it would be a somewhat uncomfortable arrangement. I didn't imagine that it would really come to this." She motioned to the quiet white walls that surrounded them.
Sakura wiped her tears while Tsunade fluffed her pillows up. "Sasuke cares for you in his own way, I'm sure," Tsunade tried to reassure her. "Just… never give up surviving, all right? Live – if not for us, then for the child."
A few minutes later, the Hokage left Sakura alone in the hospital room. The coral-haired woman lay still, staring at the ceiling. How had it come to this? She had been so certain that everything would be all right if she married Sasuke. She had been so sure that as long as she was by Sasuke's side, nothing would go wrong. As long as she fulfilled her goal of being with him, helping him build a future he had been so uncertain of before, she thought… that maybe her life would be a little closer to perfect.
She had been naïve, she now realized in bitterness. Nothing in her current situation was close to perfect. She knew that he didn't love her as much as she did him, but she had taught herself not to be bothered by the fact. But it didn't stop her from hoping. Not really. In the back of her mind and in the core of her heart, she prayed he would feel deeper for her.
She thought that time had arrived when she realized that she was carrying his child. When she told him, it was like she was looking at a different, happier person. She had never seen him smile even a little, and at that time, he couldn't wipe that little grin he had on his face. He had even laughed once or twice. It was a beautiful feeling – to know she had given him that smile.
It was the first time she had seen him smile so sincerely. The first she had heard him laugh. The first she found him being agreeable even to Naruto.
It was also the first time he held her like she meant the world to him. The first he had kissed her with so much love and fulfillment.
The first time she had felt loved and cared for.
She thought that this was what she was praying for in all the years she had loved him. In the aching of her heart in the years before, it was this joy she was longing to have.
But she was a smart girl too. She never forgot the fact that if she had not gotten pregnant, Sasuke would never act this way. It was her belief, no matter how much she tried to disbelieve it, that it would have never happened if she had remained without child.
The joy she felt was the sort that was bittersweet and short-lived. Sasuke made sure he was home as much as he could in the first few weeks of her pregnancy, and he was home so much that his duties as an ANBU captain were left unfulfilled. And so, when he started working again to compensate for the time he spent out of the ANBU temporarily, Sakura was left with huge amounts of time to herself.
It was an innocent decision. She thought she was strong enough yet to continue her duties in the hospital, even for the meantime. She never chose her jobs in the hospital – if someone was sick, she would care for them. Not even the heaviness of the job could deter her from doing it. She knew now that her own kindness and sense of duty that was her own downfall.
On one of the days Sasuke was not home and would not be for a couple of weeks, she began to feel weak, and Ino, who was visiting at the time, noticed she had started to slur in her speech. It was when the blonde watched her collapse that she knew something was awfully wrong.
In the hospital, they found that her kidneys had shut down, and that she had a clot in her heart. They cleared the clot, Sakura could remember, but her kidneys were still shut down. It was then they found out that something was wrong with the fetus, after numerous tests were run on her.
But she insisted she was healthy enough to stay out of the hospital, to everyone's distress. She did not listen to whatever they told her, and she depended on several drugs and a few rounds of treatments to keep her on her feet. She didn't want Sasuke to know.
In fact, she was determined not to let Sasuke know. It would break his heart, she thought then. She tried not to listen to the little voice in her head, telling her that it was actually a selfish desire – she craved his love and affection. She didn't want to let go of it. She felt she deserved it after all those years of holding on to that nearly hopeless dream. She was only human. She needed love as much as she thought Sasuke did. She needed her happily ever after, even if she told herself this happily ever after was for Sasuke. So by the time the first treatment was over, she made a show of being happy and healthy when Sasuke came home.
He never suspected a thing.
But it kept coming back. Soon, she began lying to Sasuke – she was going to the hospital because she was bored in the house, she told him. He would calmly tell her off, saying that she could do something normal women would during their pregnancies, like sleep or knit, but she would joke, even with the pain underneath her laugh, that she was not a normal woman, which was why she got married to him.
The disease only became worse as the pregnancy progressed. The fetus, they told her, was dying, bringing her to death with it, and the only way was to paralyze it, and release the pressure in the fetus's urinary bladder, which was four times the normal size. They had done the procedure, and for a while, Sakura thought everything was going to be all right.
She was wrong – and it was inexplicable that she would notice how much she had been wrong for most of her marriage and pregnancy. Ino, who had been caring for her, noted that she was jaundiced and rushed her to the hospital immediately. Now, Sakura had been bedridden for two days, exactly the amount of time that Sasuke had not been home. He was out of Konoha so much that he hadn't had time to notice much of what was happening. Oh, he had commented, once or twice, about how much weaker she seemed to be, but she often reasoned out that the pregnancy was taking its toll on her strength.
It was the truth, after all, even if it was just half of it. That was what she tried to tell herself every time she had to lie to him. It was for his own good.
It was lucky, I guess, that the disease progressed so much slower than it should. But am I really lucky? Was it really something good that it would come to this?
Maybe it would've been better that I hadn't gotten pregnant, Sakura thought, her emerald eyes still swimming with tears. Maybe, if I didn't have this baby with me, I wouldn't be in constant pain. I wouldn't be in this constant physical and emotional slump.
But it was my fault, after all. It's not the baby's fault, nor is it Sasuke-kun's. I just… I wanted to be loved, even if I died trying to be loved.
Sakura was a smart young woman. She was hardly confused, and if she was, she often knew how to abate her confusion with hard facts. But this was the one confusion she could not find a settlement to. She didn't know who to blame, or what to think. It was the steady feeling of not being to reach an answer that unsettled her. There were so many things happening all at once that she didn't want to think anymore.
Maybe it's better if I just die.
She closed her eyes.
"Sasuke-taichou!" an ANBU nin yelled, running up to the team captain, who was drinking his share of water, in the middle of a retrieval mission in the country of Lightning. At the sound of his subordinate's panicked voice, however, he was instantly alert. "Sasuke-taichou, urgent message from Konoha!"
"Is there a change in the mission?" Sasuke asked, calm and stern as usual. He suddenly felt a bit of disdain for the distraught female ANBU – it would do well for Naruto to teach his fiancée to remain calm in these delicate missions, he thought.
"No, it's personal," Hinata said, her eyes wide and panicked under her bird mask. "Sakura is in the hospital, and she's in critical condition!"
The blood drained from Sasuke's face, and he dismissed all notions of reporting Hinata for lack of psychological strength. "What? Is she giving birth? Did something happen to her? How about the baby?"
"She… she contracted some kind of disease," the pearl-eyed woman said breathlessly. "They're trying to stabilize her condition and they want her to give birth as soon as possible, before she dies, but the baby might… they might lose it, if something goes wrong. Tsunade-sama specifically ordered you to pull out of the mission and transfer the captaincy to Shino-kun."
"Done," Sasuke said, taking his pack and traveling back to Konoha as fast as he could. Tsunade, in his opinion, didn't even have to order it.
"Let me in!"
"No, she told us not to-"
"Let him in, Shizune, it's his right!"
"But Sakura told us not to let him in no matter wh-"
"She's my wife, dammit!" Sasuke snarled. "I want to see her, whether or not anyone else wants me to!"
The Uchiha tore himself from Shizune's firm grasp and slammed the door open. He dropped his backpack on the floor and went closer to Sakura, who was staring weakly at him underneath lowered eyelids. It was hard to tell what she was thinking. He couldn't see her eyes, and her face was devoid of emotion.
For a while, the two of didn't say a thing. Sasuke tried to settle his thoughts, the only sound in the room being the steady hum of the heater in the room. Finally, Sasuke began, as calm as he could. "They said… you've been suffering for months."
"It's true," Sakura monotonously murmured. She didn't find any point of lying any longer.
"You didn't tell me," Sasuke continued, waiting for a louder reaction from his usually brighter, happier wife. His frayed nerves were dancing between staying composed and exploding with anger and frustration.
"I thought it would make you happier if I didn't."
This time, Sasuke did lose his cool. "Do you think I look happy now, Sakura!?" he growled. "Do you? Don't you think I'm upset that not only are you sick and endangering two lives, you've also kept me in the dark for months?"
"I know you're upset," Sakura replied, this time, with a tone of regret on her voice. "I just thought that maybe I'd get better before you'd find out-"
"And what if you'd died and I didn't know?!"
"I wouldn't have," Sakura said, her voice wavering with the emotion she was failing to keep from her voice. "I wouldn't-"
"Yet they told me you were – are in critical condition! Why didn't you tell me? I might have done something about it!"
"You couldn't have-"
"You don't know that-"
"I'm a medic nin, I know what you could and couldn't do for me-"
"But you didn't know what to do for yourself!"
"See? This is why I didn't want to tell you-"
"I would've been less upset!"
"I couldn't tell you! I didn't want to!"
"I couldn't risk it!" Sakura shrieked at him, her emotionless mask breaking when aggravated tears began burst out of her eyes. "I didn't want you to stop loving me because there was a possibility I might lose the baby! I didn't want to give you anything to worry about! I…" She paused, trying to collect herself through her sobs. "You love the baby so much, and I didn't want to take away that happiness you felt. You love this little one more than anything in the world… more than me. I thought that if I let it survive just enough for it to be old enough for surgery when it was born, then even if I died, you'd still be happy. I thought it would be okay for me to die as long as the baby was alive and both of you were happy. And… at least… at the very end of my life… I would still think… that there was a possibility that… you loved me…"
She couldn't let her eyes meet his. She had just opened up a very uncomfortable fact to Sasuke, and she was afraid of his reaction. She merely continued sobbing into her hands, her heart squeezing. Silently, she hoped that Sasuke would say something, anything, just so she would know what he thought.
Sasuke stared at Sakura, not being able to find the words to say. Her words rang in his ears. He felt them trying to suffocate him, because it all sounded so foreign yet so true.
But was it really?
"Sakura…" he mumbled. She raised her head, her expression both distressed and hopeful. He averted his eyes and stood up quickly, going for the door. He needed to think, alone.
"Sasuke-kun…?" she whimpered, ever so softly.
"You're really… annoying."
Sakura often heard a saying that if your heart was not whole in the first place, then it wasn't possible that it would be broken.
Then why, since her heart was already broken, did it feel as though as it had just been crushed?
Naruto was furious. No – he was beyond livid.
There was a time in his life when he had only a few people to truly give his love to, with that same love being given back, however hidden it was. There were two of them that he loved the most. One was his first love, the one he thought of now as the sister he never had. The other was the most arrogant, pigheaded, assholish jerk he had ever had the misfortune of meeting, who he considered not only his best friend and rival, but also his brother.
It was this same person that he was looking for now. There were a lot of questions he was just dying ask:
Why the hell did you even marry Sakura, anyway? So you can abandon her in her time of need?
Do you even have a concrete idea of what love really is?
Do you know how often she's said that she wanted to give her life if it were for you and the baby?
Do you love her?
Do you want to fucking die, Sasuke-jerk!?
Naruto found Sasuke in his mansion's courtyard, swilling a sake bottle in his hand. If Naruto were asked at that moment, of the anger that he felt when he saw this pathetic sight, he would have only described it as something that boiled in him like magma in a volcano. "Dammit, Sasuke!!!" he roared, stalking angrily to said Uchiha. "What the hell are you doing here out of the hospital?! Sakura needs you! "
Sasuke said nothing. Naruto grabbed him by the collar, and he didn't even respond. "What the fuck is wrong with you, you asshole?! Sakura's suffered enough because of you! Why can't you give her your support at least? She's going into surgery and yet-"
Something stirred in Sasuke. "She's what?"
"She's going into surgery!" Naruto repeated. "They were making her give birth two weeks earlier because she wasn't going to last two days if she waited the two weeks out, and now they're saying they're going to operate on the baby while it's still inside her." His gaze on Sasuke portrayed wide-eyed frustration. "Didn't you know? Well, that figures – you're such an uncaring bastard that-"
"Do you think I don't love her?"
Naruto stopped in his tirade, staring at his friend. "I think…" He paused, wondering how to word it. "I think that you don't know what love is, which is why you can't show it right."
"What kind of answer is that?" Sasuke asked, narrowing his eyes.
"The right kind," Naruto replied curtly. "Come on, you can answer that question for yourself. Do you think you love her?"
"She says that I don't."
"You never did show her that you do. It really is no wonder why she wants to die just to make you happy. In truth, she wants to die because she can't take what you're doing anymore." Naruto's gaze was steely, challenging. "Are you going to do something about it?"
Sasuke never felt more intimidated by any other challenge than this one.
Sakura's eyes felt as though the tears had dried out. She was only vaguely aware of being carried to a wheeled bed and being brought to the OR. She felt numb and tired. She recalled the pain she felt when Sasuke had left the village thirteen years ago.
This one feels a thousand times worse.
She wanted to die. She didn't even want to fight for her life anymore. She could hear Tsunade and the other medics trying to encourage her to fight on, but she really didn't process anything they were saying. It wasn't important. What was important was that they get her child out alive. There was no point in living. Not when she was going to feel like this for the rest of her life. It was a pathetic way to live.
Now that she had gotten a taste of what love from Sasuke felt like, she was helpless without it.
I had no idea I was so delicate, she thought sardonically.
She could hear herself telling the medics that they ought to get her child alive, no matter what, even if it would compromise her life. Tsunade was yelling something she couldn't understand. Ino was there as well, hysterical, but Sakura thought she didn't care.
Leave me alone, she could feel her mouth forming the words.
"Sakura! Listen to me, look at me. Come on-"
Her eyes refocused. There was something comforting and relieving about that deep voice.
She felt that they had stopped moving. Something moved closer to her ear, something was squeezing her hand.
"Look… I'm sorry. I'm sorry you've had to feel this way. I love-"
"Sa… suke… kun…?"
"Yeah… Yeah… I'm here. I won't ever leave, so don't leave either… okay?"
"The baby…" she breathed. "What about the baby…? If I… die then maybe it'll live, and…"
"No. No, you have to live. Stay strong for us both, Sakura. I want you to live. I wouldn't know how to live for the both of us if you weren't with us."
"You… don't know how to take care of kids…" Sakura slurred, laughing a little, her eyes closed.
"No, I don't. I'll need you for that, and – and for other things too. You're just as important as the baby. I need you, Sakura. I…"
His voice dropped a notch lower and Sakura strained to hear what she hoped she would hear.
"I love you."
He paused, letting those words sink into both of them, then continued in a slightly louder voice. "So. Stop thinking I don't. Because I… do."
It was the one thing she wanted, no, needed to hear the most. Suddenly, she wondered if she would be able to fight death off.
Sasuke sat on the porch, reveling in the cool air of the late afternoon. Winter was coming soon. These were exactly the times when he felt most relaxed – it almost felt as if the entire world was sleeping.
A small voice whimpered a bit, and he automatically glanced at the bassinet a little to his left. He stared at it for a while, wondering if the little bundle would start bawling any time soon, but it only gave a little sigh and continued on with its slumber. He sighed in relief – he was never really comfortable whenever he had to hold it, always afraid he might do something wrong.
And Uchiha Sasuke never ever did anything wrong. Ever.
Which was, of course, his reason why he didn't like doing anything he might make a mistake with.
But he was learning that making small mistakes was all right, because one learned from those mistakes without compromising anything. What he experienced in the past year taught him that.
He could honestly say that making a big mistake that compromised a life he held dear made all other mistakes seem as though he could get through them. Making a big mistake and having to pay with his pride was a much lighter consequence than losing someone he loved.
Uchiha Sasuke learned a lot about love in the past year. Anyone could tell you that.
He learned more than that, too. He learned how to take care of a child, and was rewarded with being called a good father. He learned to show how much he cared anytime he could (even if he still was having a hard time) and was rewarded with a happier kind of life.
He learned that if he loved someone so dearly, he would have to learn how to fight for that love, and was rewarded with a lot more than he ever expected to have since he first claimed the name of an avenger.
He smiled that quiet smile of his.
All was well.
.:.can you hold me now, my frozen heart?.:.
Author's Note:Now that I read it again, I see that as usual, I still don't give justice to my endings.
It's the first time I've ever written anything remotely situational and dramatic. They say the difference between drama and melodrama is that in drama, there's character development amid all the kicking and screaming, whereas in melodrama, it's all kicking and screaming. Now I wonder whether or not my work could be classified as drama or melodrama. I hope it's the former.
Anyway, the inspiration for the story is an episode of the medical drama series "House." Renee liked it so much that she recommended it. I ended up watching my cousin's DVD of it just so I can get a feel of the series, and read the synopsis Renee gave me. You've got to give me props – I actually did my research. But I probably got some facts wrong… so let me just say: Don't trust my fanfic for medical information. I'm not a doctor – not yet, anyway.
(But honestly, I'm aiming for psychiatry instead of all the bloody stuff.)
Yeah. The longest Author's Note I've ever made.
(To Renee: Sorry it came so late. Aside from my usual excuse of not being able to use the PC, I had a bit of a hard time pulping out my brain for the words to come out on paper. Looks like I can think better when I'm typing.)
Still craving for reviews, my lovelies.